Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz has added another high-profile homophobic zealot to his list of backers -- Colorado-based preacher and politician Gordon Klingenschmitt, who has boasted of performing exorcisms on lesbians and says LGBT people want to take the rest of the world to hell with them.
Klingenschmitt, a state representative, is a member of the Colorado Leadership Team announced by Cruz Friday, the day before the state's Republican convention. Between the convention and congressional district meetings, the Colorado Republican Party awarded Cruz all 34 of the state's delegates to the national nominating convention, having canceled the party caucus.
"I am honored to have the support of so many courageous conservatives in Colorado," Cruz said in a press release on his website announcing the leadership team, whose members undoubtedly helped him to victory over the weekend, along with a reportedly rousing speech Cruz made at the state convention, held in Colorado Springs.
The progressive group People for the American Way denounced Cruz's connection with Klingenschmitt. "Cruz's choice to align with Klingenschmitt, who has been repeatedly denounced even by members of his own party, shows how dangerous a Ted Cruz presidency would be to most Americans," said the group's president, Michael Keegan, in a press release. "Even among far-right activists, Klingenschmitt's comments stand out. Rep. Klingenschmitt has declared that 'demonic spirits' rule President Obama, that God cursed America for legal abortion through a brutal attack on a pregnant woman, and that teaching children about marriage equality subjects children to 'rape, at least in their mind.' Cruz's decision to advertise his association with Klingenschmitt shows just how ugly his own extreme antigay agenda as president would be."
Klingenschmitt, of Colorado Springs, was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 2014 and is running for state Senate this year. Some of his greatest anti-LGBT hits:
In a recent Daily Show episode, he told interviewer Jessica Williams of transgender people, "They not only want to be confused about their own identity, but they want the rest of us to be confused with them. Now they want the government to join them in that pretense? They're making us into liars."
In 2014 he said of LGBT activists, "They want your soul. They want you to disobey God so that you go to hell with them. It's not enough that they go to hell for disobeying God, they want you to disobey God so that we all go to hell. That's the devil's goal in the end."
In 2013, he said of the movement for transgender rights, "There is a demon of rape inside of this movement" that intends "to violate your daughters." A Colorado couple who fought for their transgender daughter's right to use the girls' restroom at school are "abusive," he said in the same sermon on his online video program, Pray in Jesus Name. "These abusive parents now have used this little boy to try and claim that he's a girl to try and tell the world that they ought to let transgender adults into your little girls' public bathrooms!"
In 2015, he said judges who uphold bans on so-called ex-gay therapy are "cooperating with the demonic spirit inside of the homosexual addict." God, he said, may come "as a healer through the psychotherapist to heal the homosexual of their sinful addiction."
And more: Klingenschmitt, a former military chaplain, has said gay soldiers cannot serve effectively in battle because they are "taking breaks on the combat field to change diapers, all because their treacherous sin causes them to lose control of their bowels"; that photographers taking pictures at same-sex weddings should write "worthy of death" on the back of the photos; that as he once performed an exorcism on a lesbian military member and turner her straight; and "that "the ultimate hate speech is to endorse homosexuality because you give them the impression that it's OK and that deceives them and ultimately trips them into hell."
Klingenschmitt is hardly the first anti-LGBT extremist to align himself with Cruz. Others backing the Texas senator's presidential bid include Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council; Linda Harvey, who runs Mission: America; Bob Vander Plaats of Family Leader; and Mike Bickle, of the International House of Prayer, who is less well-known than the others but, in addition to making many anti-LGBT statements, has notably claimed God sent Adolf Hitler to hunt down Jews who refuse to convert to Christianity. And Cruz's father and frequent campaign surrogate, self-styled minister Rafael Cruz, has often made virulently homophobic statements.